A Marine Installer’s Rant golden oldie: “High Maintenance”

Editor — Are you too missing Bill Bishop’s wry take on the world of marine electronics? Or perhaps you never even stumbled on his Marine Installer’s Rant?  Well, it’s intriguing that Bill is deep into writing a novel; there are still many relevant entries at the Rant; and Panbo is very pleased to republish a golden oldie:

High Maintenance

From: Bill Bishop
Date: Monday 21 August 2014
To: John Rhoades
Subject: Invoice

Dear John, I gather you’re upset about the invoice to replace the oil pressure sender on your boat’s generator, although it was hard to understand the voice mail you left. It was almost like you were spitting into the phone. Just send me an email about it. It won’t seem as wet.

Regards, Bill

 




From: John Rhoades
Date: Tuesday 22 August 2014
To: Bill Bishop
Subject: Re: Invoice

That invoice is outrageous. The part was only $18.00, the labor was $3189.00. What kind of scam are you trying to pull. I run a Porsche dealership, and I barely charge that to replace spark plugs which cost a lot more than an oil pressure sender.

 


From: Bill Bishop
Date: Tuesday 22 August 2014
To: John Rhoades
Subject: Re: Re: Invoice
Dear John,

I told you it would be expensive before we started. I clearly remember being told by you that you didn’t give a S#%!, just fix the F^##*(@ thing because you didn’t want to listen to the kids whining about not having AC on the boat and not being able to charge their iPads. BTW I told you before you bought that Magnifico 48 it was a high maintenance boat.

Regards, Bill

 


From: John Rhoades
Date: Wednesday 23 August 2014
To: Bill Bishop
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Invoice



Okay, I remember saying something like that but the Magnifico 48 is a beautiful yacht with all of the best options. I still don’t understand why it cost so much to replace one small part. I’m sure you’re jerking me around.


From: Bill Bishop
Date: Wednesday 23 August 2014
To: John Rhoades
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Invoice

Dear John,

I too once had a boat like the Magnifico 48. It tragically developed a big leak offshore and sunk in 2000′ of water. It was a lucky thing I had a life raft, lots of sandwiches, a bottle of Bourbon and an EPIRB.

Did you actually read the invoice? It was two pages long. The oil pressure sender was on the back side of the generator. The generator was installed up against the transom, on top of the waste tank and sender. The engine exhaust system had to be removed, a frame had to be built to skid the generator forward which could only be done after the all the wiring was removed. Then we could replace the oil pressure sender, push it back in place, secure it, reassemble the exhaust systems and reconnect all of the wiring. I’m waiting for the waste tank sender to fail so we can do this again. Just pay the bill, please.

Regards, Bill

 


From: John Rhoades
Date: Thursday 24 August 2014
To: Bill Bishop
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Invoice



Bill, I’m just a poor car dealer. How about we settle for $2500, and will you throw in the repair of the thingy that lifts the TV out of the cabinet? It was squealing for months, and now the TV is stuck halfway up.

 


From: Bill Bishop
Date: Friday 25 August 2014
To: John Rhoades
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Invoice

John, that’s a good place to open negotiations, and I can tell you’re very skilled at it but I’m surprised you didn’t throw in free undercoating for my truck. Let me think about it.

Regards, Bill

 


From: John Rhoades
Date: Monday 28 August 2014
To: Bill Bishop
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Invoice

Bill, what the hell is that part in the box, it looks expensive?



 


From: Bill Bishop
Date: Monday 28 August 2014
To: John Rhoades
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Invoice

Proof of life.

 


From: John Rhoades
Date: Tuesday 29 August 2014
To: Bill Bishop
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Invoice

I sent the check!

 


From: Bill Bishop
Date: Wednesday 30 August 2014
To: John Rhoades
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Invoice



Thank you. The TV lift mechanism was made in Italy and is no longer available. I can possibly use another one but the entire starboard main salon cabinet assembly along with all of the entertainment systems will have to be removed to replace it from the back side.

Please send a retainer check for $8000.

Regards, Bill

Original:  themarineinstallersrant.blogspot.com/2014/09/high-maintenance

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4 Responses

  1. In a comment to the original High Maintenance, Bill wrote, “there is more truth than fiction in the little piece.”

  2. Richard Cassano says:

    Ben,

    Bill Bishops write up is so… true. Last year I asked a certified marine electrical guy for an estimate to replace the 31 year old main electrical panel with a Stanard metal Blue Seas Systems panel. The ridiculous estimate came to “about $5000” with a side note that it may be more. I decided to do it myself.

    Well, I worked on this project all winter spending an enormous amount of time labeling each circuit, building a mounting frame, rearranged wire runs that no longer comply with current ABYC standards and finally installing the new panel. It looks great. This took me all winter. If I had to pay myself just for the time it easily would have exceeded $5000. But, I work cheap.

    There is, however, a flip side to this discussion. I have observed marine service company workers spending hours shooting the breeze on their cell or chit chatting with someone while on the clock for a job. I often wonder how much of that particular boat owners bill is based on all these non productive hours.

    Very few vendors in my area will give an estimate they can stick to. Most want to give a “blank check” estimate – “Time and Materials”, something I refuse to agree to. Over the years I have learned to do almost everything myself and enjoy most of these boat repair challenges. Most!

  3. Bill says:

    This can be the case Richard, but most techs I know work hard and often under odious circumstances like dehydrating under black canvas in Florida’s summer at 100% humidity and leaving your DNA on every sharp object in the boat. I do my best to give a good estimate, but always with the caveat “It’s a !#**^ boat.” 98% of boats have no real documentation, plans or wiring diagrams. I often feel like an archeologist as I unearth layers of old unlabeled wiring and museum grade equipment trying to integrate something new. To owners, it too often looks like it’s an easy job. All you have to do is…. Now add in the work has to be completed quickly and much doesn’t flow in a clean linear fashion. I have to wait for parts and fabrications to be completed and so on. Lastly, you have to be careful that the work is done correctly and safely. Replacing a primary power distribution panel is not a simple task and mistakes can be dangerous. You don’t want to be the guy who burned the boat down. I can assure everyone this occupation is not a get rich scheme and to do well requires a lot of experience across a large number of technical disciplines.

  4. Max Parker says:

    I miss Bill’s Rant and still check occasionally to see if there is anything new. There is a lot of wisdom in his humor. At our yards, we try to flat rate or quote as much as possible. It forces us to have confidence in our plan for repair and the owner can choose to do the job or not before we start. It also gives us the option of working together on less expensive options before hand if necessary. Of course, sometimes you have to take something apart to see the extent of the job and older boats can be complete train wrecks where everything that is touched or can be seen needs replacement even though it worked for 40 years and was working when it got to us. Bill is great at summing this all up. I hope to see more of his stuff soon.

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